In just a few years, technology has become what we live and breathe. Today, cars listen, TV screens bend and phones talk back with no one on the line. Thanks to modern networks and sophisticated devices, we can now exchange information and ideas in real-time across continents and oceans. As early pioneers of digitalization envisioned, our world is now a global village, held together by technology.
Business, in particular, has been extensively influenced by technology. In fact, nearly every progressive step that commerce has made in recent times has been supported by a ground-breaking technological innovation. It, therefore, doesn’t take much brain power to realize that, to succeed in business today and tomorrow, you’ll need to keep up with the ever-changing technology.
While it may be hard to predict what’s to come, taking a closer look at the progress we’ve made so far can help us to find some clarity on where things are headed. If you’re an entrepreneur or aspiring to be one, pay attention to the tech trends below, as they will likely shape the business scene of the future.
1. An Intelligent Cloud
The cloud-computing industry has been going through gradual changes towards becoming intelligent. Although performance, storage, and networking are still the main revenue generators for cloud vendors, machine learning is shaping up to be the focal point of the future cloud.
Companies like Amazon (AMZN), IBM (IBM), Google (GOOGL), and Microsoft (MSFT) are already offering cognitive APIs with their cloud services, which make it possible for cloud-based business resources to deliver natural user experiences. As machine language continues to find its way into cloud computing, applications will be able to see, listen, talk and decide, based on natural language processing, face detection, visual recognition, video analytics, language translation, and sentiment analysis.
2. Social Platforms
While social networking sites were initially meant to connect people, they’re now transformational business tools that allow companies to interact with customers in unique ways.
However, many enterprises still rely on company websites as their primary tool for online presence. A future where social media will be the first port of call for customers is possible, where businesses will lay more emphasis on social media activities and social identities, and less on the isolated information they gather when customers create accounts on corporate websites. Consequently, social media accounts would have morphed into social media business platforms.
3. Data Security
Cyber security has been a growing concern in the corporate world, and things aren’t about to change soon. Despite the relentless efforts by security system developers, cyber criminals have seemingly managed to stay a step ahead.
As a result, businesses are developing the fortress mentality, in which all IT systems have to be foolproof. This is gradually paving the way for a security architecture that responds to threats where and when they happen.
As we advance into the future, the role of people in data security will continue to decline, replaced by automated systems that detect, assess and respond to risks immediately.
4. Customer Experience
Today, business process goals are driven primarily by the need for cost reduction and optimization. Tomorrow, however, they’ll be dictated by the importance of superior user experiences that boost customer relations and satisfaction. Better user experiences will require more layered approaches, with emphasis on simplicity and efficiency.
Virtual reality and artificial intelligence are among the technological advances that are set to take center stage in improving customer experience. The use of both innovations will allow future shoppers to gaze their eyes and stretch their legs in stores from all over the world, and interact with retailers in real time.
Many companies are applying data analytics to describe, predict, and improve business performance. However, comprehensive analytics often requires extensive computation of data, using the most current algorithms and software. Therefore, big data and its complexities are typically reserved for research corporations and scientists.
Nevertheless, if you’re paying for a web-based marketing tool or sales workflow automation, you’re already taking advantage of analytics. With more companies investing in big data services, the cost of computation is going down, and efficiency is going up. Soon, you’ll be moving from hiring services to building your own solutions, specifically tailored to your operation.
The influence of gadgets to business cannot be undermined. Stylish business laptops and 2-in-1’s have replaced clunky office desktops, and in our pockets, the pioneering PDA devices have been swapped for high-end smartphones.
With device manufacturers consistently incorporating new technology into their products, the business computers of the future look to be even more complex. Mobile communication and connectivity, in particular, will lead the move to integrate even more tools and services for simpler and more productive business processes. This is not to mention the rise of virtual reality and mobile VR ready PCs, which could make virtual meetings a lot more viable and improve on the basic video calling currently in use for remote team comms.
Blockchain may not yet be top on the agenda of business board meetings, but it’s making significant headway behind the scenes.
In simple terms, blockchain is a type of digital ledger that groups value exchange transactions – made in tokens like bitcoin – into blocks. This ledger can be viewed, but not modified unless there is a consensus among related members, which may include multiple banks, asset managers, and custodians. Blockchain, therefore, eliminates the need for a central authority to approve transactions, making them more secure. Decentralization also means that blockchain has no single point of failure.
As more companies come to terms with the power of blockchain, the demand for making this technology readily available will rise. The Harvard Business Review puts blockchain above big data and artificial intelligence as the tech milestone most likely to define the next few years of commerce.
If you’ve been following tech in recent times, you undoubtedly know that making predictions about future trends and innovations, even those that are a year out, is a futile endeavor. Developers change approaches every day, which means surprises can come from any direction.
Regardless, it pays to look into what’s most likely down the road so that you can prepare your strategies and make decisions accordingly.
About the Author: Vigilance Chari currently covers tech news and gadgets at LaptopNinj. She is an International presenter and published author. When not writing, she spends her time as an enthusiastic professional party planner and part-time painter.